The First “Shooting Star” of the Silver Screen

broncho-billy-blogThe “Great Train Robbery” was written, produced, directed and photographed by Edwin S. Porter, a former cameraman for Thomas Edison. It was the first motion picture with a story-plot, filmed in in the wilds of New Jersey in November 1903. The ten-minute long movie cost just $150 to make. Meanwhile Al Jennings was still trying to rob trains in Oklahoma, Butch and Sundance were holding up banks in South America. Emmett Dalton was in prison and Cole Younger had just gotten out of prison. Wyatt Earp was prospecting along the Colorado River and Bat Masterson was sports editor of the New York Telegraph.

Max Aronson had a small part in “The Great Train Robbery” but he wasn’t a horseman and got bucked off. However, he realized something was missing in the film…..a star. By 1910 he had become Broncho Billy Anderson and created an audience demand for a single actor, something the film producers were trying to avoid.

Broncho Billy became the first “shooting star” of the silver screen, was the first person to receive screen credit of any kind and thereby instigating both the star system and the “B” movie. He paved the way for future stars like William S. Hart and Tom Mix.

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